Archive for category Infrastructure 2.0
The big Internet companies like Google, Amazon, Yahoo and Facebook are having a profound impact on the IT ecosystem. Wikibon has been tracking the hyperscale infrastructure developments for the past few years (see much of this at Wikibon.org/SLI – our Software-led Infrastructure page) and how both the operational models and technologies used are impacting service providers and enterprise environments. The hyperscale (or web-scale) companies still only make up about 20% of IT revenue, but more signifiantly, most of the growth (see server revenue as a barometer of this activity). There are significant differences between the applications in hyperscale (custom written to optimize for massive scale) and enterprise (typically off-the shelf), so the theme is not that the enterprise of tomorrow will look like the web companies of today.
Amazon has turned the data center into an API and that has created a dramatic shift in the enterprise. The Internet giants – we sometimes refer to them as the hyperscale crowd (e.g. Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, etc.) – are paving the way for the next generation data center. This brings several challenges to IT organizations including pressure from the corner office to replicate the speed, agility and efficiency of these innovators. The problem is, most IT organizations don’t have the engineering capacity of a Google. IT organizations will spend money (with a vendor) to save on management costs (i.e. they’ll buy a more expensive solution that is easier to manage). Internet giants on the other hand will spend time (engineering time) to save money. It’s a very different mindset.
When it’s come to software, for years, CIOs have had to make a critical determination:
- Is there an existing product on the market that can meet the identified business need?
- Is there an existing product on the market that I can customize to meet my need?
- Do I have to develop software to meet the identified business need?
It is Wikibon’s belief that the trends put forth by hyperscale companies are starting to push into the enterprise to create a software-led datacenter. While SDN fits into this trend, there is an even greater opportunity to truly transform the way that the network is managed and potentially disrupt the current industry structure, which is dominated by Cisco. While customers may complain about high prices, networking has traditionally been bought on risk-avoidance and changing vendors can cause a lot of angst and internal resistance. Cisco has done a great job of keeping up with customer requirements over the last 15 years and despite industry consolidation – both acquisition and challengers in the channel – has managed to maintain a long lead, especially in L2/L3 switching. There are rumors that Cisco’s latest spin-in – Insieme Networks – will make some announcements at Cisco Live next week. Whether that happens or not, with Cumulus Networks coming out of stealth today, let’s take a look at some competing visions for where networking is heading.
EMC World 2010 was the first enterprise show of SiliconANGLE’s theCUBE. Over the last 3 years, theCUBE has interviewed more than 1,000 guests at dozens of shows; EMC World is one of the most popular programs every year. EMC has expanded far beyond storage to become a “federation” of companies in the EMC family: EMC, VMware and the newly launched Pivotal. The live broadcast schedule for theCUBE at EMC World will be a full 3 days, Monday May 6 – Wednesday May 8, 10am – 5pm Pacific. Guests include many CEOs, CIOs, CTOs, thought leaders and end-users from a broad spectrum of topics. Coverage this year will include spotlights focusing on the disruptive and growth opportunities for EMC and its ecosystem. For those attending EMC World in person – our broadcast location is part of EMC SQUARE, conveniently located outside of the solutions pavilion.
I’d like to explore the topic of how system and storage architectures are changing and the impact this will have on application delivery and organizational productivity.
Allow me to put forth the following premise:
Today’s enterprise IT infrastructure limits application value.
What does that mean? To answer this, let’s first explore the notion of value. The value IT brings to an organization flows directly from the application to the business and is measured in terms of the productivity of the organization. Infrastructure in-and-of itself delivers no direct value; however the applications, which run on infrastructure directly affect business value. Value comes in many forms but at the highest level it’s about increasing revenue and/or cutting costs; and ultimately delivering bottom line profits.
Enterprise IT departments are faced with the burden of keeping costs down while meeting the increasing requirements of the business. Administrators become experts on coping with the complexities of configurations rather than supporting new initiatives. Hyperscale data centers can manage many orders of magnitude more infrastructure with the same staff; Facebook manages 20,000 servers per technician. One path towards simplifying operations by moving to an IT as a Service model is to use converged infrastructure. Wikibon has predicted a steep growth in the adoption of converged infrastructure (see the market forecast); recent data shows that the spectrum of solutions is already selling over $1B in 2Q12. The move from deploying IT silos to convergence requires adjustments in staffing, tools and business processes and often must fight against organizational inertia.
Flash competitors are aggressively jockeying for position as the market heats up. It’s a tale of two styles. On the one hand, EMC’s entrance into the all-flash array market targets traditional IT segments. It will both pressure competitive offerings and its own high-end block storage business. EMC is positioning to cannibalize its own base before others cut too deep into the EMC muscle; but it must walk a fine line. At the other end of the spectrum, Fusion-io is uniquely positioned to serve the hyperscale market and currently stands alone with a software-led strategy that leverages atomic writes and delivers new value to database workloads.
“The storage needs of business and application owners are simple: Give me storage when I need it. Provide services appropriate for my application in the most cost-effective manner. Charge me for what I use, don’t charge me for unnecessary waste.
Service-oriented storage has the potential to meet business needs by inherently offering the ability to:
- Provision storage capacity and function that meets application requirements based on performance, scalability, availability, cost and security needs of the business.
With its recent announcement, VCE is showing the world that it is more than a solution of parts from the parent companies (Cisco, EMC, VMware and Intel). VCE’s revenue is now tracking over $1B per year thanks to Q4 2012 being over $250M and according to industry trackers, is the top selling converged infrastructure solution. The most notable piece of VCE’s recent announcement is that for the first time, the company is bringing a software product to market that was developed in-house – VCE Vision Intelligent Operations which will start shipping with all Vblocks in April 2013. First of all, the creation of a new software line is a proof point that the company is not a short-term project; despite the coopetition between parent companies, the bottom line is that VCE provides revenue and strategic value in how EMC and Cisco bring data center solutions to the market. At its core, VCE Vision software helps deliver on the mission of the company, which is to help simplify infrastructure for virtualized environments by moving from siloed components to management at the rack level. Managing by the rack rather than the component is how hyperscale companies manage their environments at much lower operational costs (see Rack Level Architectures and Hyperscale Operations). Virtualization administrators will now manage a “Vblock” item directly in vCenter, so the internal components become invisible, allowing for much less day-to-day touching of the solution.